Remarriage among Americans over the age of 55 is on the rise. For many, the financial impact is positive. An Ohio State University study found married people generate 4 percent more wealth per year than singles, accumulating twice the wealth of singles over time.* One obvious reason is the savings achieved by sharing housing, utilities and food expenses. Another big factor is married couples tend to plan for the long-term more. Here are a few other benefits:
Taxes. Even if a couple’s income doesn’t double when they marry, their income tax deductions often do. This may be a benefit if one spouse earns more than the other. Couples selling a home they have both lived in for at least two years may be allowed to make a $500,000 profit without paying capital gains tax (as opposed to a $250,000 limit for single homeowners). Since spouses can combine their gift exclusions, a couple can gift others up to $28,000 annually tax-free. One spouse can gift an unlimited amount to the other spouse. Federal income tax provides an unlimited marital deduction on assets left to a spouse, and most states also offer either a full exemption or a lower rate for spouses.
Retirement. Currently married spouses have the option to receive half of their partner’s Social Security benefits. If an employee chooses a “joint and survivor” benefit, company-sponsored pensions are transferred to their surviving spouse at time of death. Maximum incomes qualifying for tax-deferred or tax-exempt IRA accounts are larger for married couples. An employed spouse can contribute to an unemployed spouse’s IRA. Inherited retirement accounts can be rolled into a surviving spouse’s IRA, potentially providing longer periods of tax-deferred or tax-free growth.
Insurance. An unemployed or self-employed spouse can usually obtain health care coverage under their partner’s workplace policy. Even if both people have health plans, getting a family rate under one policy often saves money. A spouse who is unable to obtain life insurance due to marginal health might secure a joint or survivorship life insurance with a spouse. A couple may qualify for a shared benefit rider on a long-term care policy that is less expensive than separate policies.
If you or someone you know is contemplating a second marriage, we would be happy to work with an attorney or accountant to give the new marriage the best chance of financial success and security. Our Next newsletter will look at potential drawbacks of remarrying.
*“Divorce Drops a Person’s Wealth by 77 Percent, Study Finds,” https://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/divwlth.htm
Securities America and its representatives do not provide tax advice; therefore it is important to coordinate with your tax advisor regarding your specific situation.